INI + AMEN.
Do you think that man thought something was up? “Why’d this ruler of the Pharisees invite me?” He must’ve known there was a catch. The likes of him don’t get invited to fancy parties and dinners, especially when there’s a great guest of honor! No, not this man with dropsy. He could’ve thought there was a catch with JESUS too, but JESUS makes sure there’s none of that thinking going on: ”He took him and healed him and sent him away. There wasn’t a catch, not for that man. It had been set for JESUS, and JESUS healing this man sets the stage not only for the rest of our reading, but this healing sets the stage for almost the entire rest of Luke chapter 14, and maybe even into chapter 15. And it’s not because this reading is about good manners at a party. Etiquette is important in social situations, but this text isn’t some rule book for how to treat people at a party. It’s much more weighty than who should be on the invite list. For you see this text is really about how JESUS relates to sinners, how He relates to you. This humble, lowly, downtrodden man with dropsy is healed, lifted up, exalted. JESUS heals and exalts, that’s who you have in our text: healing and exalting JESUS.
((3. JESUS is humbled and exalted))
You see, it can’t be about good manners. Well, if you want it to be, fine. Go ahead! You might was well eat glass. Don’t invite people you love and like to your parties. Don’t even think about it! Invite the homeless, the poor, the lame and blind. Invite your enemies, people you don’t like, people you wouldn’t be caught dead with. Who would do that? Not you. Not me. Especially if we can avoid it. We make ourselves Lord—God!—of the party. We know who we’re better than, more caring than, more Christian than. And that’s actually the real nature of this text. What sort of people do you want to see at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb? What sort of people do you want to see here, to see gathered around the Lord’s gifts—receiving them with you, hearing His Word with you? We all know people who aren’t here, and we’re sad about some of them. But there’s also people who aren’t here, and we’re kind of okay with that, aren’t we? Just a little bit? And it’s for this exact reason that JESUS dies and rises, FOR YOU, for them, for all! He is humbled and exalted, for even ”though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Whoever humbles Himself will be exalted—JESUS FOR YOU, in your place.
((2. JESUS heals.))
But not just then—now! JESUS hangs out with sinners, with you, with me. He heals us of our dropsy. As surely as He healed that man’s physical disease and affliction, which is easy for JESUS to do by the way, He heals you and me from our spiritual dropsy. He had to die and rise to do that, and now He heals the edema which bloats our souls: our lack of true humility before God and our exalting ourselves over others. We suffer from a lack of faith toward God and a true, sincere, fervent, heart-felt love for our neighbor. But JESUS has given you what you couldn’t muster up for yourself. He gave you faith in God in Holy Baptism. He instills love for your neighbor by feeding you with His body and blood. He body-and-bloods you together with people you may not even like, but you should. How can you not love them? JESUS’ flesh and blood is as much for them as it is FOR YOU! What joy! Even you receive JESUS’ body and blood: the medicine of immortality that cleanses all, and I mean all, your iniquities.
((1. JESUS exalts))
Yes, JESUS hangs out with sinners. That’s the types of people that He wants to deal with. He wants to deal with the helpless. He does for those who can’t do anything for themselves. He exalts us to His table. We have a place at table. We have a heavenly Father who loves us, we’re His sons. We eat and drink with the Son, we eat and drink of the Son! Body and blood. This exaltation, this lifting up to table, lifts us out of our pride, our thinking we’re not so bad before God, that there’s some catch that we need to do something. None of that. Lifted from the pride we feel towards others. The same blood of JESUS fills the chalice for them as well as you. This lifts us up together in sweet communion with one another for we certainly join in communion together in Christ JESUS, who deals only with poor, miserable, destitute sinners such as us. He lifts us up here, and He will lift us up on the Last Day. Then we will be resurrected, exalted, lifted up forever soul and body to be sons in the eternal kingdom.
((JESUS HEALS AND EXALTS YOU.))
JESUS was humbled FOR YOU. He was exalted, resurrected FOR YOU. He did this “for us men and for our salvation.” He deals only with sinners: no strings attached, no catch. Just healing and exaltation from JESUS. He heals your iniquities, cleanses you from them, lifts you out of them. Now, you love your neighbor! Of course you do! The blood-filled chalice is for them like it is for you! What gift! We’re lifted up to be sons in the kingdom because JESUS was lifted up on the cross FOR YOU. Healing and exalting Jesus today. Healed and exalted that dropsified man. That’s you too. He does that FOR YOU. He makes a table FOR YOU. Feeds you there. The Supper of the Lamb’s body and blood until you’re in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His kingdom that has no end.
INI + AMEN.